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2023-24 NBA Betting: 5 long shots to win Finals

DeMarcus Cousins Clippers

NBA Futures
Who are five long shots worth betting on to win the NBA Finals? Let’s examine! (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

2023-24 NBA Betting: 5 long shots to win Finals

We are roughly a month-and-a-half away from the 2023-24 NBA Playoffs! It’s never too late to think about betting NBA Futures, but now is the time when things begin ramping and, more importantly, ‘books become sharper for NBA action.

With that said, let’s dive into five of my favorite long-shots to win the NBA Finals. For the sake of fun, I did not include the two favorites–the top-seeded Boston Celtics and reigning champion Denver Nuggets–within my arbitrary parameters. Let’s begin!

For more Finals Betting Odds, check out the action here!

Golden State Warriors (+4200):

This future will ultimately be contingent on Golden State making it out of the play-in race, which they’re practically a lock for (at worst) with Utah and Houston cratering. The Warriors are currently playing their best basketball of the season in part because of their youth–specifically from Jonathan Kuminga and Brandin Podziemski.

Golden State’s won five of its last six, 10 of its last 12 and 11 of its last 14, moving to 31-27 and No. 13 in NET Rating. They are 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Lakers, who they still play two more times, two back of the Sacramento Kings and 2.5 back of the Dallas Mavericks (who it plays three times).

Stephen Curry is playing exceptional basketball and Draymond Green looks as good as he has looked over the past two seasons since returning from his suspension. Klay Thompson has also looked revitalized since moving to the bench, averaging 19.2 points on 44.1 percent shooting from deep (albeit a small sample). 

All the Warriors need to do is be in the race come mid-April because they’re always capable of making noise. With how volatile the top of the conference may look, this is one worth betting on before the odds continue shortening. 

Los Angeles Clippers (+500):

Is DeMarcus Cousins right? Can Los Angeles be the next first-ever champion after the Denver Nuggets accomplished that feat last year?

If Kawhi Leonard and Paul George remain healthy, absolutely. That’s the biggest swing factor. They also need strong production from James Harden–who won’t be tasked as a No. 1 or 2 scorer, which could work in his favor this time around–Russell Westbrook, Norman Powell, Terance Mann and Ivica Zubac, among others.

But if their top two can stay healthy, the Clippers have as good of a chance at anyone at knocking off the reigning champs and making it out of the West for the first time in their franchise’s history. 

The Clippers are two games back of the Denver Nuggets for the No. 3 seed and 3.5 back of the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 2 seed. They are T-5 in NET Rating (4.4) with the No. 5 offense and No. 14 defense. 

The same goes for Golden State, but any team that wins the NBA Title rarely finishes outside the top-10 in defense; it’s happened just three times since the turn of the century: The 2000-01 Los Angeles Lakers (22nd), 2017-18 Golden State Warriors (11th) and last year’s Nuggets (15th). 

But, when healthy, I trust Leonard–having arguably his most impactful season since joining L.A.—and George over most tandems in the West. That doesn’t count their depth, which is strong. 

It’s not beautiful value, but the odds are long enough for me to play it over a few of the other contenders.

Minnesota Timberwolves (+2500):

The Timberwolves are the top seed in the West with the best defense and third-highest NET Rating … but have the 8th-best odds? Regardless of how you feel about Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert (in a playoff setting), this feels slightly mispriced.

Perhaps the possibility of drawing Warriors or Lakers is (also) baked into the price, but I still like my odds if Anthony Edwards is heading the snake. They gave Denver arguably the biggest challenge last year, and are more healthy plus better equipped this year. They could also have home court against every team in the West, which matters.

I worry about their half-court offense–the 13th-most potent, per Cleaning The Glass–as well as either one of Gobert or Towns getting played off the floor in a playoff series. They wouldn’t be the first team I’d pick to make it out of the West, but this is a pure value play for me, all things considered. 

(Like many of these, these odds offer a beautiful hedge opportunity should they advance to the West Semis or West Finals.)

Miami Heat (+4000):

Yeah yeah, call me a homer. Call me a “fanboy.” Call me whatever you want. 

The Heat are also playing arguably their best basketball of the season. They had their five-game win streak snapped, but have won seven of their last nine and nine of their last 12. They are also 1.5 games out of the No. 4 seed in the East and have the NBA’s second-easiest schedule the rest of the way, per Tankathon

It’s also that time for Jimmy Butler to actually … you know … look like he fully cares about basketball. He’s averaging 22.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 1.6 steals on 54.8 percent shooting and 65.7 percent true-shooting over his last eight games and we’ve seen what he’s capable of once mid-April rolls around when he’s healthy.

Let’s be honest: Does any team want to see them in the East? Are the Heat scared of anybody? I can answer that for you: No, and definitely not. 

Few believed they’d win a game, let alone make it to the Finals as the No. 8 seed last season. That doesn’t mean what happened last year will happen this year. You need practically everything to go your way–from a health and basketball perspective. 

But as a futures bettor, you’re looking for value. This is value. They have a top-10 player in Butler–who turns into a superhuman in the playoffs–one of the NBA’s best defenders and the league’s best coach who’s six steps ahead of you.

Other teams in the East have gotten better, but so has Miami. You can never count them out. 

New York Knicks (+2300):

Speaking of teams who got better: The New York Knicks! 

The Knicks acquired OG Anunoby, Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks ahead of the trade deadline. Though they are 2-7 since the deadline due to injuries to Julius Randle, Anunoby and Isaiah Hartenstein (who recently returned), among others. They also have an upcoming game against Cleveland. So, from a value standpoint, it might be wise to wait and see how those play out, just in case they lose and the odds continue to lengthen.

It may be difficult to talk yourself into Brunson being a 1-A on a championship, but there are only a handful of those players across the league. When healthy, Tom Thibodeau has a 10/11-deep rotation at his disposal with a litany of multi-positional, tough, rugged defenders and phenomenal rebounding. Brunson’s one of the league’s top floor generals and shot creators. To me, this is a reasonable value.

5 Honorable Mentions:

Cleveland Cavaliers (+2700): They have the league’s 3rd-best defense and 15th-best offense … plus Donovan Mitchell, an electric playoff performer. Plus, this group has more shooting than it did last year. Question is: Can they be tougher on the glass, where New York bullied them last postseason?

Dallas Mavericks (+3000): Luka Doncic terrifies me (as an opponent) in a playoff series, and their back-line is a lot more lengthy and versatile than it was pre-deadline.

Milwaukee Bucks (+700): Their defense looks a lot cleaner under Doc Rivers. But I don’t have them listed because … uh … Doc Rivers.

New Orleans Pelicans (+6500): Tell me this doesn’t sound intriguing. How much you believe in Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum is the biggest question.

Oklahoma City Thunder (+2000): Oklahoma City’s been my favorite watch this season. My biggest concern is their youth, but they do follow the 40-20 rule (win 40 games before you lose 20), which (historically) works in their favor. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also a sensational watch, so betting on them for rooting interest isn’t a terrible idea.


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